Considering past experience, the need for the Urban County Government to subsidize its employee health insurance plan can't be considered a huge surprise.
Claims have been surpassing contributions on a regular basis in recent years, making annual subsidies from the city budget something of the norm.
City employees and Fayette Countians can draw their own conclusions about the timing of the announcement coming after the mayoral election and after the normal time for open enrollment in the program, which was delayed from October until this month.
Enrollment may need to be delayed again while city officials figure how to deal with a projected $7.2 million shortfall.
Since this projection is based on claims experience from the first three months of the fiscal year, the final impact on the city budget could be higher or lower. But whatever the amount of this year's hit, this needs to be the last of the annual subsidies.
Obviously, the city's health insurance plan is dysfunctional. And the decision to stop offering coverage to related agencies, such as the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, just as obviously wasn't quite the fix it was expected to be.
So, the plan needs reworking, and some of the revisions may need to be in place before open enrollment for the coming calendar year.
In the long term, the plan has to eliminate the zero-deduction package used by almost 90 percent of city employees. Deductions are the norm in private insurance plans, and are rapidly becoming the norm in public plans.
While it may represent too drastic a change to sell to city employees before the coming enrollment period, continuing to offer a zero-deduction option into the indefinite future is simply not an option for a city in need of a health insurance plan that can sustain itself without annual budget subsidies that put other services and programs at risk.